Monday, June 19, 2017

Native North America Gathering 08/08/17 (Toronto)

Featuring live performances from...

Duke Redbird
Willie Thrasher and Linda Saddleback
Willy Mitchell
Lawrence Martin with Vern Cheechoo
Lloyd Cheechoo
Eric Landry
Leland Bell
Brian Davey
John Angaiak
Alexis Utatnaq

With MC: 
Brian Wright-McLeod (The Encyclopedia of Native Music)

And film:
The Ballad of Crowfoot (Willie Dunn, NFB, 1968)

August 8, 2017

Doors 7 pm / Show 8 pm

Trinity-St. Paul’s (427 Bloor Street West, Toronto)

Tickets available at the following link

We respectfully acknowledge that this event will take place on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishinabek, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

Presented by Gladeye, Voluntary In Nature, and Revolutions Per Minute (

In second half of the 20th century, Indigenous musicians from across North America made their voices heard like never before. Inspired, informed, and contributing to the global explosion of youth culture, they combined words, poetry, art, film, and music to reflect a wide range of Native issues and experience: the balance and transition of traditional and modern life, language preservation, views on the land, family, love, spirituality, and the effects of colonialism. The disturbing events that unfolded at Wounded Knee in 1973 was one unfortunate catalyst for awareness, identity, protest, and change, but there was a new soundtrack coming from within the Indigenous communities during this era, provided by talented singer-songwriters like Buffy Sainte-Marie, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Alanis Obomsawin, Willie Dunn, and their peers. These artists didn’t mince their words. They made their voices heard loud and clear: We are Native! We are Proud! These are our truths! The time is now! Their inspiration was monumental to those both inside and outside of the various Indigenous communities of Turtle Island.

Still, without industry or mass media support to help transmit these messages, a determined artist had to work extremely hard to have their songs recorded to tape. Fewer would have their recordings pressed to vinyl and distributed. Either self-released or with the assistance of an established label, cultural organization, or national broadcaster like the CBC, a number of long playing albums and seven inch singles did hit the marketplace. They were mostly sold off of the stage at gigs, in convenience stores or at Native friendship centers, and occasionally at the odd mom and pop record shop. Whether the artists were aware at the time, their music began to travel. Over the years, they provided an essential document of this decisive era to listeners lucky enough to hear them and laid the groundwork for today’s vital Indigenous music scene. Though initially marginalized through mainstream exclusion, regional focus, geographic isolation, racism, and music industry short-sightedness, these artists are now being heard by an expanded global audience in 2017.

Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 is a Grammy nominated 3-LP/2-CD/digital compilation of thirty-four landmark Indigenous recordings. Accompanied by an extensive liner notes book featuring biographies, archival images, and lyric transcriptions and translations, the collection was released by Seattle/Los Angeles-based Light in the Attic Records in November of 2014 after five years of production by music historian Kevin Howes (Voluntary In Nature). On Tuesday, August 8th, 2017, many of the box set’s veteran singers, songwriters, poets, musicians, and storytellers will gather from across Turtle Island for a once-in-a-lifetime concert celebration in cooperation with Gladeye, VIN, and RPM. Please help us to honour these legendary creators whose messages of love, awareness, and community have forever changed the musical landscape. Let’s continue to make it known!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Passing traffic

Today, I felt very MOR, which stands for "middle-of-the-road."
This term often refers to an outdated musical style popular in the 1970s or a related radio format, but earlier this afternoon, something compelled me to actually stand in the middle of the road.
Surveying the landscape, I decided to face west.
To my left, a stream of cars, bikes, and trucks cruised past...
On my right, a flow of vehicles sailed by...
I stood on top of a painted yellow line, holding my breath, and paused for a second.
I breathed in even more, exhaust and air combined, as much as my lungs could take.
Then I began to exhale, very slowly, much slower than the pace of the passing traffic.
I had nothing in my hands, nor was I seeking anything specific.
This is simply where I decided to position myself on another grey Vancouver day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I carefully made my way down the fallen 30 foot log. It was wet, but not as slippery as I had thought. The warm wind was gently blowing and felt good, along w/ the sun, on my pale winter skin. I extended my arms outward for balance, paused for a moment, then continued forward. Finally reaching my destination, I stopped to observe my surroundings and take in a deep breath. Morphing blue/green ripples shimmered at my feet, great expanses of lush trees and snow-capped mountains could be seen in the distance, and the open sky, streaked w/ clouds of varying shapes and sizes, filled the periphery. I decided to tune out the teenagers playing Drake on the gridlocked cement dock across the way. With no disrespect, it was their place to play on this special day. In contrast, the sandy family beach to my right was unusually quiet. Gaining focus, my thoughts became simple, contemplative, and full of appreciation of nature and all of her glory. It was an honour to be back at Sasamat. I drew in another breath, bent my knees, and dove out as far as I could, feeling instantly refreshed as I splashed beneath the lake's surface before coming back up for air, kicking my legs like imaginary flippers. The water was crisp and clean. Another swimming season has begun. PEACE

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Looking back through the rain and fog, Kamandi and I first met Ichiro Goto at a dark and dank second story warehouse space in Gastown after Blur’s The Great Escape tour stop at the Commodore Ballroom in the winter of 1996. Bodies seemed to be floating in-and-around each other without a care that evening, drinks, firmly in hand, and feet, footloose and fancy free. “Hey, cool t-shirt,” may have initiated our conversation, but those three simple words sparked a now 21-year and counting friendship between Ichi, Kamo, Sir Derek Neville, and myself. In hindsight, there was something more than late night small talk stirring, the beginning of a cross-cultural exchange that opened the doors to another reality for a group of young music lovers. JAPAN CAN LIDO JAM represents the street level strengthening of the Pacific gateway and an opening of consciousness in defiance of the darker side of Japanese and North American settler relations, ripples still felt around the world long after the atomic (and other assorted) atrocities of WW II. While acknowledging the severity and significance of the past (which wasn’t as far away from the present as we were taught by the black and white images in school), we started to shout: "F%ck racism! Eradicate ignorance! Goodbye distrust! Eliminate hatred! Come together!” We simply wanted to learn from and share with one another in an open and meaningful way outside of the governing powers that be. Bonding over food, UK import records, vintage clothing stores, travel, and the many details of modern coastal living, it was a thrill for us to realize our similarities and respectfully approach any differences as global citizens. Together, we helped to make the earth a smaller place and made efforts to build bridges (instead of walls) as we walked down city streets, into a restaurant, concert venue, arcade, movie theatre or bar. There was no fear, only music, art, film, dance, architecture, culture, family, nature, peace, love, understanding, and leading by example. We are happy to report that after almost thirteen years away from the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples, Ichiro will be visiting his adopted hometown of Vancouver all the way from his native Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. It will be amazing to see the changes to this city through his eyes after so much time has passed. Please join us at the Lido (518 E. Broadway) on May 10th (9 pm-1 am) to celebrate a very special friendship that spans decades, geography, technology, fashion, but also what’s often left out of the equation, heart and soul! We warmly welcome friends old and new for this most social of gatherings. Together we will raise a humble toast to unity and progress during this era of digital distress while continuing to discuss the future. As always, a suitable soundtrack will be offered with precision. KANPAI!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dancing Shoes

*Re-soled and ready to shimmy!@#$%!!! PEACE

The Zombies Odessey & Oracle 50th Anniversary Finale Tour

Looking back, my first exposure to The Zombies was digging through my parents' record collection as a kid in the 1970s. Immediately infectious songs like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" sounded sugary sweet coming through the family stereo speakers alongside The Moody Blues and The Beatles and stayed close to me as I grew older. In my late teens/early 20s, I dug even deeper into the group's music and discovered their 1968 swan song, Odessey & Oracle. The album became a staple while working at the Coquitlam Centre HMV during the mid-to-late 1990s and we were always stoked to sell an import copy right out of the store's CD player. "Another point for the good side!" Oracle's "This Will Be Our Year" became a special song, mantra, and tear jerker for a (still) sensitive young man while "Time Of The Season" shut down many a dance floor jam. "Hung Up On A Dream" was the tune that could lift my mind to another dimension and yet there was even more to explore... What we call an "end-to-end burner," it's amazing to think that Odessey & Oracle is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Needless to say, there is no place that I'd rather be tonight than at the world-famous Commodore Ballroom for The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle 50th Anniversary Finale Tour.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Native North America Prime Minister reply and recognition

Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 was released by Seattle/Los Angeles-based Light In The Attic Records in late 2014 to much love around the world. Critically acclaimed, the compilation also garnered a 2016 Grammy nomination in the "Best Historical Recording" category. Most importantly, NNA V1 helped to share some of the most life-changing music and stories that you'll ever experience.

As I've stated many times before, it's been a massive honour to make connections with so many of my musical heroes during this journey and I hope that there are more ahead. Despite the project's success, there has also been struggle. Aiming high and pushing forward without a booking agent, official manager or slick PR campaign has posed its challenges in terms of inclusion or sustainability in the face of ever-increasing costs of living for artists, creators, producers, and technicians. We are clearly not alone in those regards. Life continues.

It should be known that NNA V1 has been a true labour of love for everyone involved. The multi-media events that have happened in its strong wake from coast-to-coast have been made possible and memorable by some very supportive and encouraging people and I'd like to thank you all very much. To Elder Dr. Duke Redbird, Willie Thrasher (and Linda Saddleback), Gordon Dick Sr., Shingoose, Eric Landry, John Angaiak, Willy Mitchell and the rest of the featured artists, I bow my head to you, your families, and communities. I will never forget the warm, open-minded, and diverse audiences that we've encountered. Here's to more gatherings ahead (think August)!

Outside of political ideology or perspective, it was very important for me to ensure that Canada's current Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, was fully aware about this trailblazing Indigenous history, still rocking and rolling in 2017. I sincerely appreciate his reply and personal recognition of this time sensitive project as well as my longtime work in sound heritage. Thank you!

During our current era of reconciliation, music is an extra special connector, teacher, and healer. My job as a Canadian music historian, producer, DJ, and writer is to help recognize, share, and celebrate the breadth of talent that exists here in this country and beyond, regardless of its commercial success, never a gauge for quality, substance or soul, corporate algorithms be damned!

As we know, music, feeling, culture, and true love transcends any border or sales chart. To reflect this understanding and passion, I am currently working hard at preparing the first set of archival music releases on the Voluntary In Nature label and look forward to sharing them with you in the not too distant future...

Ok, that's my speech for today. Am I starting to sound like a politician?

Kevin Howes (aka Sipreano)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Be In

REWIND (The Be In, 50 years later): Anyone wanna walk to Ceperley Park tomorrow and talk about how, bar "advances" in science and technology (and waist lines), barely nothing has changed since (at least) the 1960s!? After a good five minutes of stretching, I will be heading down from Main and Broadway with a bottle of Vancouver tap water tucked away in my 1990s vintage Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack. Actually, in the spirit of the future, I'd like to walk past the initial site of The Be In (the aforementioned CP) and hit Third Beach to stare at the tankers (or are they just ships?). There will be no music per se (Country Joe & the Fish were in town for the first jam, 50 years ago), but on return (post ramen stop), we can sit in a circle and listen to my original Papa Bear's Medicine Show LP which I purchased from Neptoon Records for 600 Canadian dollars and keep in a safe-deposit box at an oil supporting bank (*Shit, I think that they're closed on Sunday, listening session postponed, but do drop in to Dandelion Records' DJ night at The Lido (518 E. Broadway) after 9 pm because they are sure to play some psychedelic artifacts on vinyl). As we all know, 50 years is a hell of a l-o-n-g time... Heck, I'm only 42!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and just typed 42 exclamation points if you can believe that!). TRUST me (No need to count ; ) I wasn't even AROUND in 1967 (well, as Sipreano at least), but I HAVE sat at the feet of OG hippies who carried that spirit until death and have learnt one very important thing: LOVE. LOVE! Well, LOVE it is then! Tomorrow. Lot's of LOVE! Noon. LOVE! Unceded Coast Salish Territory. LOVE. FREE. LOVE (Is that still a thing? Asking for a friend)! Main/Broadway meeting place (Um, sorry, NO love, especially that new condo "development" nearby). Bring your walking shoes or sandals (or forget footwear altogether!) Cell phones optional (though somebody SHOULD document this, right? Even if it's just me!) LOVE! PEACE